Hudson Valley Life - All Article newsfeed en-us Copyright 2019 The Professional Image. All Rights Reserved. Fri, 04 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT RSS.NET: Enjoy Wildlife In Your Backyard! Are you thrilled by the sight of wildlife in its natural environment? If so, you don't need to travel for the experience. With a little effort, your own backyard can become a stopover for some of North America's most colorful wildlife. Fall and spring are migratory season in America as flocks of birds migrate between hemispheres. Like any weary traveler, these natives look for places to rest and refuel. Welcoming them to your yard is a way to protect our natural heritage and enjoy their beauty at the same time. "Transforming your yard or garden into a wildlife refuge is fun,"says Spencer Schock, Founder of WindowAlert, makers of bird-friendly products for homes. "Children love an outdoor project and the sight of wild birds adds dazzle to your family's seasonal experience." Here are some tips for watching and keeping birds safe during migration: Birds migrate because of food, not weather. The cooler months make it more difficult to find sustenance, so placing a bird feeder in your backyard with water and high energy foods like meal worms, black oil sunflower seeds, or suet will help them complete their journey. Birds don't just take one long flight. They need lots of stopover and staging areas during their travels. Encourage them to linger in your backyard by providing shelter, such as a bird house. Opt for water-repellant bird houses with hinged roofs so the house can be cleaned after nesting. Avoid perches, which make birds easy prey for predators like cats. Man-made structures, even in rural areas, can be hazardous to migrating birds. For example, birds don't "see" clear glass and as a consequence, millions of birds worldwide die every year when striking glass. To protect birds from hitting your windows, you can apply special decals that reflect ultraviolet sunlight, such as those made by WindowAlert. The decals have the appearance of frosted glass-so they won't ruin your view -but glow like a stoplight for birds, with their unique ability to see ultraviolet rays. The best way to enjoy wildlife is to avoid interfering in any way. To do so, invest in good binoculars and get out in the early morning when birds are most active. A field guide book can help you identify the creatures you see. Record-keeping is not just for ornithologists. By keeping a journal of feeding and housing patterns of birds populating your backyard, you can be better prepared for next year. In addition, consider becoming a "citizen scientist" by submitting your observations to The Audubon Society and Cornell University's database at For more information on making your home and garden a bird haven, visit or call 877-733-2753. "There are many ways to assist birds on their journey, from installing birdbaths to applying window decals," says Schock. "Once you have made a few modifications, don't forget to enjoy that flash of color by the feeder." Birding in the Hudson Valley Once you tackle bird watching in your own backyard, you may want to test your skills and get involved with local Hudson Valley Bird watching clubs. The Orange County Audubon Society in Middletown mission is "to create interest in flora, fauna, and all natural beauty in Orange County and vicinity." The Society's website includes loads of bird watching tips and lists field trips that are open to the public. Here are a few upcoming events: Sunday, March 27 at 9:30am Liberty Loop Trail on Oil City Rd. Part of the Wallkill River NWR From Goshen take Rte 17A to Pulaski Highway (Rte 6), at big cross road and traffic light take a right, bear left on Liberty Corners Rd, turn right on Oil City Rd. The club will be on the left at the parking lot and viewing platform. Rain or snow cancels. Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 at 7pm Highland Lake State Park From Rte. 211 East turn left on Goshen Tpk., to right on Scotchtown-Collabar Rd (there is no sign-it has a traffic light and a church and cemetery on the left), turn right on Tamms Road, go up hill, past the curve, and pull into a parking lot. The club is looking for Woodcocks on this outing. Bring a flash light. The Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club in Dutchess County also lists their bird watching field trips on their website. The club advises that you dress for the weather and bring lunch and any beverage you prefer. Any inclement weather will cancel the walks. There are many trips listed on their website, but here are a few upcoming walks. Please contact the club before attending events, member's email addresses are listed online. Wednesday, March 9 RTWBC Field trip-Mills Mansion Meet at the Mansion parking lot, Staatsburg, at 9am. Tuesday, March 15 RTWBC Field trip-Woodcock Watch-Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Meet at the Gifford House, Rte. 44A, Millbrook at 7pm. Wednesday, March 23 RTWBC Field trip- Harlem Valley Rail Trail Meet at parking lot off Mechanic St., Amenia at 9am. Reporting from Bridget Schultz of Hudson Valley Life in conjunction with State Point Media. Home and Garden Fri, 04 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Easy tips to help you de-stress Stress is on the rise nationwide, and experts say it's endangering our physical and emotional health. Approximately three-quarters of Americans say they experience chronic stress at unhealthy levels, putting them at risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to the American Psychological Association's 2010 "Stress in America" survey. In today's fast-paced world, it's more important than ever to take time to de-stress through such techniques as exercise, meditation and proper nutrition.  Meditate to unwind Scheduling time during your week to unwind will help you access your self-confidence and make better life choices. "Many experts believe in the healing powers of meditation. It allows us to de-stress from our hectic, overscheduled lives," says Ryuho Okawa, author of the new book "The Next Great Awakening: A Spiritual Renaissance" and founder of the Happy Science spiritual movement, which has 12 million members in 70 countries. "The real purpose of meditation is not just relaxing, but closing your physical eyes, and going into a state where you open your spiritual eyes." One form of mediation practiced and taught by Okawa focuses on teaching people how to enjoy solitude and silence. Once you stop the constant chattering in your busy mind, you can tap into a sense of peace and gain confidence in being alone. In the process you become more self-sufficient, since you will no longer be looking to others for confirmation of who you are. Another method is called "Reflective Meditation," where you look back at the events that took place in the past week, month, year, or your whole life. Through self-reflection, you calm your mind and enter a state of deep relaxation.  This meditation allows you to change your perspective from negative to positive and become happier and healthier.  Take care of yourself It's easy to forget to take care of yourself when balancing work and family obligations. Make sure to eat healthfully, instead of grabbing fast food or snacks on the run. Get proper nutrients from vegetables, fruits, protein and grains. When tension spikes, a balanced diet will help you stay calm. Walk, run, dance or participate in a favorite sport to work out tension. Physical activity can clear your mind and release endorphins that make you feel better. Get proper sleep. Too little sleep can make you more stressed and too much can make you sluggish. It's a balancing act. Engage with the world Don't spend all your time alone, indoors, stressing about life. Enjoy natural sunlight and the great outdoors. Or spend more time with people who love you for yourself and who have upbeat outlooks about life. These people lift your spirits, help you have fun and even may help solve problems in your life. "De-stressing is about more than just calming down our hectic lives," emphasizes Okawa. "It's about self-acceptance as well as unconditional love for others, because we are all struggling to better our lives." Courtesy of StatePoint Media. General Thu, 03 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT What's New?- SUNY orange SUNY Orange's Kaplan Hall The dedication ceremony for SUNY Orange's new Kaplan Hall takes place March 24. The state-of-the-art, three story building is located on the college's Newburgh campus, at the intersection of Grand and First Streets. The $85 million project is the school's first new classroom building since the 1970's. It's considered a milestone for the school. "This (opening of Kaplan Hall) is the single biggest advancement at the College since its founding 61 years ago," says Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president. "This campus will not only provide a remarkable learning environment for our students and teaching environment for the faculty, it will be a significant factor in the revitalization of the City of Newburgh." Classes began in January and students are giving the new 87,000 square foot facility high marks. "I love it," says second-semester student Kayleigh Burnet of Wallkill. "It's huge, and we are not all cramped together like (we were) in the old building." Most of the building's general purpose classrooms are located on the second floor. They're all equipped with Smartboards and projectors. The so-called "crown-jewel" of the building is the nursing wing on the third floor. SUNY Orange was the first community college in the nation to offer a two-year nursing degree. "It is definitely an eye-opener. Everything is very well done. The architecture and colors make it very futuristic," says Shaun Waite of New Windsor. The College is now making preparations to renovate the Tower Building, which is located at the intersection of Broadway and Colden Street in Newburgh. The project is slated for completion by late 2011. College administrators hope to have the building reopened in time for the start of the Spring 2012 semester. All of the added classroom space will allow SUNY Orange to double the number of students it can serve in Newburgh. There are 600 full-time students currently enrolled. What's New? Thu, 03 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT The Wards Bridge Inn The Ward's Bridge Inn is a popular restaurant in Montgomery. The location has a long history. The current owners pride themselves on being able to offer a dining experience that agrees with most palates and pocketbooks. First impressions My friend and I walked in about 6:30pm on a Thursday. We were warmly greeted and seated in a cozy nook in a corner by some windows. The d�cor has a vintage feel. There are Victorian styled wall sconces and stenciled vines on the walls. Everything is clean, shiny, and attractively displayed. There is a wall filled with a display of old Grand Marnier bottles, reminiscent of an old country tavern. Appetizers We came ready to pull out all the stops and sample something from each category. My friend ordered the steamed clams as an appetizer. He found them disappointingly chewy and tough, but he did not want to send them back nor did he complain to the wait staff. For my appetizer, I picked the Seafood Bisque. It arrived piping hot and topped with pieces of shrimp. It looked attractive. It was also delicious and hit the spot. The main course My friend fared much better with his Duck Grand Marnier entree. He took one bite and was hooked. The crispy duck leg and breast were covered in a French sauce, a Grand Marnier demi-glace to be exact. The dish was topped with dried cherries. For my main course, I wanted a good meat dish. I selected the Lamb London Broil on a salad called Panzella. The Pskowskis took this traditional Italian salad of fresh tomatoes with day old bread, they gave it a Greek influence by adding feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette. The salad tasted great with my succulent, medium rare, sliced lamb. Eat your veggies As for the vegetables, ah the vegetables, we each had the same. This side dish was presented to us on warm plates with carrots, broccoli and mashed potatoes that were cooked to perfection. Dessert anyone? Next, we wanted dessert. We decided on a warm blondie with vanilla ice cream. The dessert chef says the blondie is made with butter, brown sugar, oatmeal, toasted ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and orange zest. This delight was covered with a raspberry sauce and the smoothest whipped cream I have ever tasted. I usually manage to finish only half of a dessert, but I gladly polished off this treat all by myself. To complete the meal, I ordered a rich, dark roast Guatemalan coffee which was amazing. Philosophy Afterwards, I asked chef-owner Brian Pskowski what makes his restaurant unique. He says the difference is in the details. "For instance, I buy only local and the freshest of produce," says Pskowski. "My purveyor will only select the best of the day vegetables and fruits that he can find. Sometimes that means we don't have asparagus, but we do have green beans that day. We insist upon the highest quality of produce that we can afford." Reaching back into history When the Pskowski family took the space over five years ago, it was known as CB Driscoll's. The Pskowskis reached into the past and brought back the restaurant's previous name. Those with long memories in the area will remember the original Ward's Bridge Inn, which had a reputation as a grand establishment. As they continue to work on building a link between their restaurant and its famous past, the Pskowskis are also building quite a fine reputation of their own. Overall, our meal was excellent and the service was good. Ward's Bridge Inn is located at 135 Ward St. in Montgomery. Roanne Patterson is a staff member at HV Life and HV Parent magazines. She enjoys fine dining. She enthusiastically contributes to our restaurant and product reviews. Restaurants Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Diet, exercise and cancer. Is there a connection? Recently I spoke to a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has dense breast tissue and the cancer was found after it had advanced. (That's another story.) After suffering from high blood pressure for many years, I have been looking at diet and exercise as a way to correct my pressure. And I wondered if the same issues that apply to my quest for a more balanced blood pressure could also apply to cancer. So I spoke to Dr. Sam Schikowitz, a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist located in New Paltz. Dr. Schikowitz has extensive training in naturopathic modalities as well acupuncture and other forms of Asian medicine. Funny, he suggests that eating healthy and exercising, not only helps cancer patients, but in fact helps all of us live life to its fullest. Eat the right stuff 1. A diet high in protein and fat helps people lose weight, and also improves the long term cancer survival rate. According to Dr. Schikowitz, "You want (a cancer) patient's blood sugar to be regulated because cancer cells love sugar." He said many people who die of cancer die because the increased sugar is used to grow the cancer cells while it starves the healthy cells. 2. Stop smoking and stay away from others who smoke as well. Many studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health show a direct correlation between the smoke from cigarettes and breast cancer. 3. Be careful of toxins in your diet. According to Dr. Schikowitz, most toxins come from toxic animal products. I asked the doctor how hard is it to remove these toxins from our diet. Although it takes some effort, it definitely is reflected in feeling better and looking better. Some of his suggestions include buying organic products, free range chickens, light tuna, canned salmon and whole grain brown rice. And yes, antioxidants and green tea are helpful, he says, but usually in conjunction with an overall approach to a healthy lifestyle. Frozen foods are a good second choice to fresh. And of course, stay away from foods with a lot of preservatives and additives. Develop an exercise regime 1. No magic pill. First of all, according to Dr. Schikowitz there is no pill out there that does what exercise does for you. So your first step is to come up with an overall exercise plan. 2. Improve your mood. What's great about exercise is that, in general, it improves your mood while it improves your body's metabolism; and it reduces all types of illnesses. 3. Regulate your blood sugar. One of the great bi-products of exercise is that it is a great regulator of blood sugar. And it helps you think better, feel better, and affects your immune systems. 4. Develop an aerobic program. The most effective way to change how your metabolism works is to develop an aerobic training program. I know I am doing aerobic exercise when I am breathing heavy for an extended  period of time. (Aerobic training is effective in burning sugar.) Use short sprints and interval training as part of your exercise program. Do three individual sets of an exercise rather than one long set. For more information about Dr. Sam Schikowitz and his philosophy about keeping healthy, visit his website at Check out some of the related articles on breast cancer, exercise and diet using the link to the National Cancer Institute. I have included two facts I found worth exploring. Fact One: Women who are heavier at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis and gain weight during treatment are more likely to have a re occurrence. Fact Two: According to a study by the Harvard Medical School, many cases of breast cancer can be avoided by losing weight after menopause. So the real question is, 'Are we, women, willing to take control of our lives?' My View Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT What's New?- Increase Your Vitality Chugging down a caffeine loaded energy drink may give you a temporary boost, but why not look for a natural source of vitality? You can find it within yourself through Qi Gong. It's an Asian philosophy about the flow of energy that's been practiced for thousands of years. "This is achieved through the combination of mindful breathing and intentionally expressed movements which affect us on a physical, medicinal and meditative level," says Qi Gong Instructor Lorraine Hughes of Wappingers Falls. Hughes is also a certified herbalist who is expanding her schedule of Qi Gong classes. She will be teaching at the InnerLight Health Spa at 4158 Albany Post Rd. in Hyde Park on March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16. All classes will be held from 1pm-2:30pm for $15. Her courses include exercises, special breathing techniques, meditation, and discussions about traditional Chinese medicine. The schedule for additional classes to be announced. For more information on Hughes' classes throughout the Hudson Valley, visit her website. What's New? Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Whats New?- Moxie Cupcake Here's a story about the little cupcake company that could. Moxie cupcakes all have either chocolate ganache or fruit filling, which sets them apart from the pack. Owner and baker, Josie Eriole, started her business out of her home in New Paltz last August. Now she pumps out 25-40 dozen mini cupcakes each week! In addition to her party catering business, her clients include four Hudson Valley eateries. The company gets its name "Moxie" from the nickname Eriole's dad gave her as a child. She feels the name is appropriate. After all, it takes a great deal of moxie to start up a new business in this economy. Eriole is a 39-year-old mother of two, who began baking cupcakes with her children. She discovered she has a real knack for it. The recipes she uses are her own. "The basic philosophy for me is to create a beautiful product that tastes as good as it looks," says Eriole. "If you're going to splurge, it might as well be on treats made with organic dairy, fair trade chocolate, no shortening or trans fat, no preservatives and the finest ingredients found locally." When she's not baking, Eriole is also a professional jazz singer. She's given most of her cupcakes music based names, such as "Java Jive." Her signature cupcake is "The Moxie." It's made of double chocolate cake, chocolate ganache filling, topped with periwinkle creme frosting and a sugar cookie. Moxie Cupcakes are sold at The Crafted Kup in Poughkeepsie, The Cafeteria in New Paltz, Twisted Foods in Rosendale and The Village Market and Bakery in Gardiner. For more information, visit Moxie Cupcake on Facebook. What's New? Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Reverse mortgage basics Normally, religion is a good thing. However, one's faith can be misplaced. We've found that people "get religious" about the strangest things.  Readers have said, "I don't believe in mutual funds." Others "do not believe in reverse mortgages." Yes, many products can be mis-bought or mis-sold, but each has its purpose. When applied properly, they can be potentially beneficial. We think it's best not to "get religious" about financial products. Let's go to this month's question about reverse mortgages. "Dear Senior Money Matters: A mortgage broker has suggested that I purchase a Reverse Mortgage. I am single and living on $1,300 a month from Social Security plus $113 a month from a corporate pension. I have saved $10,000 for emergencies, but could sure use the extra income this broker was discussing. My house is worth $185,000 and I paid it off three years ago." Glenda Suwanee, GA Dear Glenda: Your interest in reverse mortgages (RMs) is well founded. Today, many find their biggest asset is their home. Based on a person's circumstances, using an RM may be very helpful, but it takes some serious thought. Here are a few basics to get you started. First, a RM is special type of home loan that allows you to convert part of the equity of your home into cash. It's what's known as a "non-recourse" loan. This type of  loan must be repaid in full with interest when you die, sell, or permanently move out of your house. After the loan is paid off, the balance will be given to your heirs. If the house is sold for less than the balance of the reverse mortgage, the lender only receives what comes from the sale of the house and nothing more. Second, to be eligible for a reverse mortgage, the Federal Housing Administration requires that all homeowners be at least 62 in order to qualify. How much you receive from the loan depends on the fair market value of your home. You must own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid  off at closing with the proceeds from your reverse mortgage. Third, it is important to know that RMs may have tax consequences. They do not affect your Social Security or Medicare, but can affect your Social Security Disability or children's income from the death of a parent, medical, or other public benefits. Also, the interest on the loan is not deductible. Fourth, there are four different program types: Immediate Cash Advance, Credit Line, Monthly Income or a Combination Loan. To qualify for most loans, the lender will check to see if you can pay them back. However, since you do not have to make monthly payments with RMs, you do not need income to qualify. State and local governments generally offer the lowest fees on RMs, but these RMs must be used for specific purposes, such as repairs or property taxes. It is important to know the rules, fees and interest rates for the different loans, in order to pick what is best for you. Lastly, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has the only RM insured by the Federal Government.  It is called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).  Although HECM's are more expensive than other loans, they can generally be used for any purpose. Glenda, we have just scratched the surface here, so do your homework and seek professional advice to make sure you have a plan that will allow you to enjoy your retirement. We want to thank Laura Stohlman, CFP�, for her invaluable assistance as this month's co-author. Dan Searles and John Stohlman, of Medallion Financial Group, are CFP�'s and Registered Representatives with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry. Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Medallion Financial Group and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.  They manage over $250 million of client assets. For further info, questions or comments regarding this article, Dan and John can be reached at 1-800-878-9704 or This is not a solicitation to participate in a Reverse Mortgage.  National Planning Corporation does not endorse the opinions expressed in this column. The information contained in this article is not to be considered as financial, tax, or legal advice.  As with any financial or legal matter, consult your qualified securities, tax, or legal advisor before taking action. Money Matters Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Top 5 basic tips for retirement planning Since the start of the year, baby boomers have been turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. Money experts say the generation that lived through the tumultuous 60's is woefully unprepared for retirement. Perhaps 59-year-old Ava Levy of Spring Glen sums up the situation best. "One thing you don't want to be is old and poor in America," she laughs. However, the cold hard facts are no laughing matter. A poll by the AARP released last month found that a whopping 25 percent of people ages 46 to 64 say they have no retirement saving and 26 percent have no personal savings. Here are five suggestions for those preparing to retire. 1. Delay retirement Boomers have reinvented retirement to the point that it's now being called the new retirement. Many of them are living longer and an increasing number of them plan to remain on the job beyond 65. Financial planners say it makes sense for boomers to defer their retirement since working longer results in more income and larger Social Security benefits. "Start saving right away," says 55-year-old Mike Braun from Port Jervis, "It's never too early." Braun was hoping to retire as soon as he became eligible for Social Security at age 62. Due to changes in the economy and Social Security, he has changed his retirement goal to age 65 in 2021. 2. Plan for medical expenses Medical expenses are one of the big unknowns for retirees. "A pleasant surprise would be to learn it may not be too late to be helped, even if a spouse is suddenly ill and needs the services of a skilled nursing facility," says estate planning attorney Sanford Altman of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP in Walden. "A negative surprise is that regular health insurance and Medicare do not cover long term care expenses." Some money experts have suggested that individual retirees need to set aside as much as $180,000 for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses during their retirement. Senta Curran, of Curran Financial Group in Pine Bush recommends that boomers who are nearing retirement age consider purchasing Long Term Care Insurance. That way, they'll be better covered if an unexpected medical problem does occur. The policies usually cover the cost of home care, assisted living, hospice, and nursing home care. 3. Pay off debt Don't retire with too much debt. It's important to pay off credit card balances and car loans. The interest on this debt is not tax deductible and offers no personal financial benefit. Clearing up any outstanding bills is part of Wendy Sellars personal plan. "I don't want to have to pinch pennies and live from one check to another. You never know what could happen," says 57-year-old Sellars of Campbell Hall. She has included paying off her mortgage as part of her retirement strategy. She also wants to pay for expensive home improvements such as a new furnace, roof or replacement windows before she retires. 4. Contribute to an investment account Whether it's a 401K, IRA or regular investment account, conventional wisdom is that these plans make good sense. Don't forget to adjust your portfolio up and down the risk spectrum periodically. Accounts can be set up to make automatic deductions from payroll. "It is a forced savings and the small amount withdrawn does not really affect your paycheck," says Sellars. "Even though a retirement fund can take a hit during a tough economy, it can be monitored and stocks can be moved or sold." Some boomers chose to make contributions that are higher than their companies matching funds to ensure greater savings. 5. Be budget smart With portfolios and housing values declining, boomers need to beef up their savings. Ava Levy of Spring Glen, who at 59, is on disability. She makes do with less and recommends cutting back whenever possible to set aside $20 to $50 per month. "The delayed gratification will pay off," Levy says. "You have to take care of yourself, no one is going to do it for you. It's tough now, but it'll be worse in a few years when inflation rears its ugly head." Financial consultants believe it's important to come up with a distribution strategy about a year before retirement. If one waits to retire before crunching the numbers, it might be too late. You'll need to figure out how much you'll need to spend, where the money will be coming from and whether you can actually afford it. According to AARP, "going without a competent advisor at this stage could be a big mistake." So you may want to seek out a professional advisor to help get you started. For more information, visit the AARP website. Writer Sharon MacGregor lives in the Bloomingburg area with her husband and 2 sons. General Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Alternative Medicine in the Hudson Valley Modern medicine has done wonders for many people around the world. As a result, we can expect to live longer. However, experts in alternative medicine say many Americans have come to rely on medications that treat our symptoms instead of the underlying causes of our afflictions. There are alternatives to complement a doctor's diagnosis. Practitioners believe that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, holistic healing, Reiki, Karma Release, Naturopathic medicine, and even bio-feedback all have a place in the world of healing. Alternatives in the Valley Here in the Hudson Valley these alternatives are available in abundance. For this article, Hudson Valley Life visited an acupuncturist-herbalist as well as a Reiki master to discuss some of the options that are available. When it comes to eastern medicine, it's important to understand its emphasis on the flow of energy or Qi (pronounced Chi). "Loosely translated it means 'the functional life force or vital bio-electrical energy' and it's so much a part of Chinese thinking," explains acupuncturist Carolyn Rabiner from her bright and comfortable office outside of Red Hook. Rabiner opened High Ridge Traditional Healing Arts in the summer of 2008 after practicing in Boston. A Bard College graduate, she is board certified in both acupuncture and herbal medicine. What is acupuncture? Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago. Patients are treated by the insertion and manipulation of needles in the body to relieve pain, treat illnesses, and even infertility. The needles are placed in specific locations called acupuncture points. The Chinese believe that energy or Qi flows through invisible paths in the body called meridians. The acupuncture points are located on the meridians. "These meridians are depressions, nerve endings and blood vessels," says Rabiner, pointing out some of the depressions on her hands. "It's the oldest, continually practiced, literate form of medicine in the world." Chinese medicine includes not only acupuncture, but also herbal medicine. Special attention is paid to both diet and exercise. Before Rabiner treats a new patient, she gives an exam. "I feel the pulse at the radial artery on both wrists, check the tongue and listen to the voice," she says. "Western diagnosis is just the beginning. For the acupuncturist to form their diagnosis, they look for the underlying causes of the ailment." East versus west Rabiner feels eastern and western medicine complement one another. While she knows that some hospitals in the northeast have acupuncturists on staff at their pain management centers, she says she doesn't know of any locally. "There are things I would not treat without western medicine, such as cancer," she says. "If you have a very serious medical emergency, such as a stroke, you go to the hospital to get stabilized. Down the road, after you've been stabilized, eastern medicine can help. Western and eastern medicine should work together because they can find things we can't and we can find what they can't." Reiki Another fascinating alternative is the practice of Reiki, a Japanese healing art that has become very popular in recent years. It's commonly called "palm healing" because it involves the flow of energy from the palms of a Reiki practitioner's hands to the patient's body without any physical contact. While Buddhists are credited with some of the theories behind Reiki, the system was developed 1922 in Kyoto, Japan by a Christian minister named Dr. Mikao Usui. Reiki Master Gerda Veneman runs The Center for the Inner Light from her magnificent home outside of Red Hook. She also uses her talents and energy to practice a form of mediation called Karma Release, an intense session that forces the body to release toxins and divest itself of past life problems that cannot be resolved otherwise. Karma release This writer was treated to a firsthand experience of Reiki and Karma Release. Gerda, who has been a certified Reiki master for 12 years, explains that the object of Karma Release is to purge all of life's "clutter" that inevitably builds up over the years to keep you from your full potential. First you must make two lists: one of the things you wish for, and the other with things you want to release. I made my lists the night before and Gerda, with her elfin smile and warm personality led me to a side room where a bed was surrounded by healing stones, including Tourmaline and Snowflake Obsidian for pulling out the toxic energy and amethyst and others to replace it with fresh energy. Go with the flow I lay down on the bed, my lists were placed on my chest, more stones were placed on top of the lists, I was covered with a blanket and bid to close my eyes. She began to read words that were to help me to visualize where I would be traveling. She asked me to visualize a bright white light and a golden floating pyramid over my head. As I followed her instructions, I actually began to feel like I was getting lighter. After the reading stopped, I sensed her in the room and I suppose her healing hands (which never touched me) were working their magic because I felt more and more relaxed and lighter. I felt as though I was floating amidst the stones and the light. The one thing that kept me from floating away was the fact that I have been suffering from tennis elbow and my right arm was hurting like crazy. When I opened my eyes at the end of the session, I explained this to Gerda and she began to move her Reiki Master's hands around the sore area (again without contact) and the pain subsided. "You look 20 years younger," Gerda says afterwards. "You know, the soul we come in is part of God. On life's journey, we sometimes forget who we are." Robert Lachman is an award-winning journalist who lives in Red Hook. He has worked for many local newspapers and is also a singer-songwriter, who performs in the area. Feature Stories Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Cool Places: Hot Trips Summer arrived six months early on Pine Island. A farmers market-normally regarded as a rite of summer-held its grand opening at the famed Rogowski Farm on January 29. To the surprise of organizers, a thousand winter weary visitors converged on the tiny hamlet. It was like nothing anyone had ever seen before along County Route 26. We're jammin' "We actually had a traffic jam up to the Pine Island traffic light which is about a mile and a half away from here," farm owner Cheryl Rogowski says. By lunchtime, an employee had to stand in the middle of road to direct traffic away from the farm, because its parking lot was full. Police even turned out to make sure traffic remained under control. "I really didn't want to say this because it's been said so much, but if you build it they will come," laughs market manager Wendy Vandercliff. "It's really very fitting in this situation." Meeting demand The grand opening of the Pine Island Farmers Market was marked with live music and an alpaca shearing demonstration. Fifteen local vendors showcased their products at the market. The event was organized with help from the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce. Organizers say it was held in response to demands from area consumers. Even though local vegetables won't be available for several months, Valley residents have been calling for a place to shop for farm products during of winter. "It's beneficial for both the farmer and the consumer," Vandercliff says. "Just because produce isn't available doesn't mean that people still don't want honey, syrup or jam." Since the market turned out to be such a hit, Rogowski and Vandercliff have decided to extend the farmers market at least through April. Pancake breakfast Rogowski's 150 acre farm in the Black Dirt region is already well known for its farm fresh breakfasts. The mouthwatering menu includes fluffy pancakes, organic eggs, and natural bacon. Chef Heather Kurosz prepares your meal right in front of you on a pot belly stove. The Rogowskis also have their own line of prepared foods which are sold under the brand name Black Dirt Gourmet. Among the products being sold under the brand are yogurt, hummus, and cookies. Supper club If you'd like to have dinner down on the farm, the Rogowskis have also begun a supper club. It features five full courses and a 45 minute cocktail hour with live music. "To me, it seems like a throwback to when you would go to a club and have drinks with friends, then everybody would sit down and have a nice meal," says Chef Kurosz. So far, six suppers have been held and half of them were sold out. There's a 48 hour cancellation policy, since the dinners are actually harvested to order, The supper club has a seating capacity which varies with each season. Reservations are recommended. The fixed price is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. Farm freshness About 90 percent of the meals here are prepared with food that was picked from the fields that day and are made in a commercial kitchen inside the barn. The farm is not certified organic. That's because of the expense involved in the certification process, but Rogowski says her farm is managed under organic guidelines. She is a second generation farmer who grows 250 varieties of produce every year. She says she doesn't use genetically modified seeds or chemical pesticides and her livestock are hormone free. Market schedule Rogowski sells her farm products separate from the Pine Island Farmers Market. She says the vendors who turned out for opening day are all high quality vendors from within a 90 mile radius. Now there's a waiting list of vendors who want to sell there. Soon Rogowski plans to sit down with other organizers to decide the future of the farmers market. If they continued it into the year, they could face considerable competition. There are 11 farmers markets held in Orange County each summer. "We have to make sure we enhance the area's economic vitality and not impair it," says Rogowski. "The response we've received is gratifying." For now, the Pine Island Farmers Market will continue to be held on the last Saturday of every month. The next event is planned for March 26. It will include a gardening demonstration, which is sure to please those who've been anxious for the arrival of spring. Sandy Tomcho is a professional writer who lives in Orange County. She has also written for Rhythm and News Magazine and the Times Herald-Record. Make a day of it around Pine Island If you're still looking for more fun things to do after visiting Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, here are some ideas: Scenic Farms Golf Course Can't wait to play golf? The 9-hole executive golf course reopens in the spring as weather permits. There's also a driving range 525 Glenwood Rd. in Pine Island. Warwick Valley Winery Sample some award-winning ciders and enjoy live music at the Warwick Valley Winery. 114 Little York Rd. in Warwick. Scheuermann Farms & Greenhouses Ready for spring? This business is closed for the winter and plans to reopen at the end of April, just in time for the planting season. The greenhouse is at 73 Little York Rd. in Warwick. Cool Places * Hot Trips Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Focus on food safety Each year, about 76 million people get sick, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die from foodborne�illness. Ensuring food is safe to eat is a critical part of healthy eating, according to the newly released 2010�Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The American Dietetic Association (ADA)�and ConAgra Foods public awareness�campaign Home Food Safety supports the Dietary Guidelines' emphasis on the importance of food safety and the role each individual plays in keeping foodborne illness out of our homes.� � "The staggering number of cases of foodborne illness underscores the need for further exploration of our four�simple tips," said registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Ruth Frechman. � � Home Food Safety educates consumers about how foodborne illness in the home is a serious health issue, and�provides simple solutions and tips so Americans can easily and safely handle food in their own kitchens. Aligned�with the four basic food safety principles recommended by the Dietary Guidelines - Clean, separate, cook and chill - the following tips from Home Food Safety can reduce the risk of foodborne illness:� � 1. Wash hands often.� 2. Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.� 3. Cook to proper temperatures.� 4. Refrigerate promptly to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. � � CLEAN: Wash Hands Often� ADA and ConAgra Foods Home Food Safety program stresses the importance of proper hand washing to�eliminate cases of foodborne illness and significantly reduce the spread of the common cold and flu. Wash hands�for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food - especially after handling raw seafood, meat, poultry or�eggs - and before eating. Hand washing is also important after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, coughing or sneezing, tending to someone who is sick or injured, touching animals or handling garbage.� � Besides the importance of washing hands, the Dietary Guidelines reminds consumers that all kitchen surfaces�(including appliances, refrigerators and freezers), all produce (even if you plan to peel and cut before eating) and�even reusable grocery bags and lunchboxes need to be washed thoroughly. For example, the insides of�microwaves often become soiled with food, allowing bacteria to grow. Washing the inside and outside, including handles and buttons, can prevent foodborne illness.� � SEPARATE: Keep Raw Meats and Ready-to-Eat Foods Separate� When juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects accidentally touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods (such�as fruits or salads), cross-contamination occurs. Remember to always use separate clean cutting boards for raw�meat, poultry and seafood, and another for ready-to-eat foods. Never place cooked food back on the same plate or�cutting board that previously held raw food.� � The Dietary Guidelines reiterates the importance of keeping foods separate before, during and after preparation.�Always place raw fish, seafood, meat and poultry in plastic bags. Keep them separate from other foods in your�grocery cart and bags and store raw fish, seafood, meat, and poultry on a shelf below the ready-to-eat foods in�your refrigerator.� � COOK: Cook to Proper Temperatures� Fish, seafood, meat, poultry and egg dishes should be cooked to the recommended minimum internal temperature�to destroy any potentially harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure food is safely cooked and kept at�safe temperatures until eaten. For packaged foods, follow cooking instructions carefully, and clean food�thermometers with hot, soapy water before and after each use.� � ADA and ConAgra Foods applaud the Dietary Guidelines for stressing how cooking temperatures also apply to�microwave cooking. A microwave can cook unevenly and leave cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive.�According to the Dietary Guidelines, When cooking using a microwave, foods should be stirred, rotated and/or�flipped periodically to help them cook evenly. Microwave cooking instructions on food packages always should� be followed. � CHILL: Refrigerate Promptly to 40 Degrees Fahrenheit or Below� The Home Food Safety program reminds consumers to refrigerate foods quickly and at a proper temperature to�slow the growth of bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. Keep your refrigerator at 40�F or below and your�freezer at 0�F or below, and always use a refrigerator and freezer thermometers to monitor these temperatures. � The Dietary Guidelines also reiterates that perishable foods are no longer safe to eat when they have been in the�danger zone of 40-140�F for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature was above 90�F). When�shopping, the two-hour window includes the amount of time food is in the grocery basket, car and on the kitchen�counter." � Guidelines for At-Risk Populations� The 2010 Dietary Guidelines stress the Home Food Safety program's message for many years about how higher-risk populations like pregnant women, very young children, older adults and people with weakened immune�systems or certain chronic illnesses can be at far greater risk of developing serious illness if contracting food�poisoning. Once contracted, these infections can be difficult to treat, can reoccur and can even be fatal for these�individuals," Frechman said.� � According to the Dietary Guidelines, at-risk individuals need to take special precautions not to consume unpasteurized (raw) juice or milk, or foods made from unpasteurized milk, like some soft cheeses such as Feta and queso blanco. Additionally, raw sprouts can carry harmful bacteria and should be avoided. The Dietary Guidelines also recommend that consumers reheat deli and luncheon meats, and hot dogs should be reheated to�steaming hot in order to kill Listeria-the bacteria that causes listeriosis.� �� Foodborne illness is a serious issue for Americans. Fortunately, simple steps like those found on� can significantly reduce this risk and help keep families healthy and safe," said Joan Menke-Schaenzer, Chief Global Quality Officer for ConAgra Foods.� � A downloadable chart of safe minimum internal temperatures of foods and more information on preventing foodborne illness can be found at General Tue, 01 Mar 2011 00:00:00 GMT Dating in the Middle Ages Dating. It's not easy at any stage, but for baby boomers who may be giving love a second or third go round, it's more of a challenge. The generation that began the free love revolution in the 60's, has found many of its own divorced by the 90's. Now they're back in the dating game. In fact, according to a Time article from November 2010, "At, the 50-to-65 age group is the online dating site's fastest-growing demographic, up 89% in the last five years." Here are stories from some who know the trials and tribulations of boomer dating. Felice Feinberg is on the HV Life sales staff. The 50-something from Washingtonville dreads dating. "I hate having to tell my life story," she says. Married for twenty years, Felice went through a divorce and suddenly found herself dating again. "Dating is harder now than when I was in my twenties," says Felice. "Back then I was thinner, cuter (writer's edit: that's her opinion!), and had a lot more options." Felice found that some men she met online were picky and arrogant. "I went out with a few guys from, but they just fizzled out. One guy said he had a great time after dinner, and would call again. He never did. Then a few weeks later, he contacted me again, like he didn't remember me and said, 'We should go out.' It's like, 'You have to be kidding me!'" Roanne Patterson, 62, is another sales staffer who has her share of dating stories. Her overall outlook on the dating scene goes up and down. "I go through stages. Sometimes I am all atwitter to do the online scene. Soon after, the enthusiasm wanes. Then every so often, I get the bug to dabble, and I have some fun again." Roanne has used online dating in the past, but found it to be too much work. Felice agrees. "Who has time to fill out a 35 page survey?" says Felice. "Not me." Vincent, 52 from Washingtonville, says the same, "I never used dating websites, but I did go on to investigate the women on there, then suddenly you have 18 pages of questions to go through. I do want to try the sites eventually, but I have to sit down and actually do it." Both Felice, Roanne, and Vincent said they prefer to be set up by friends, rather than go the digital dating route. They feel their friends understand them better than a dating service. "However, there was this one date that my friend set me up on," jokes Felice, "We won't talk about that one." One Hudson Valley Boomer who has had success using online dating is Hugh Ford. Hugh is a 50-year-old who will not be single for much longer. It took a while for him to find Ms. Right and interestedly enough, she lives "across the pond." Since his divorce three years ago, Hugh met women through friends and at local bars. While he liked some of his dates well enough, he says there was never any real chemistry. He had been out of the dating scene for so long, that he had begun to find things difficult. "It was tough as can be to actively go out looking for a date, let alone a partner," says Hugh. Then, he looked online. "One woman I met told me about a dating site called, 'I Love Your Accent,' a site aimed at Brits and Americans to get together. I gave it a try. That is how I found Gill. We connected in such a short time, that when she told me she was going on vacation in Florida, I threw caution to the wind and went to meet her." Sparks flew. She came here to visit Hugh a few months later and the two fell in love. Hugh proposed at the Tavern in Highlands Country Club in Garrison. "If you had ever told me that I would find love on a dating site I would have said you were crazy, but here I am ready to get married again and move overseas. I know it may not work for everyone, but after a couple of years of being single and finding no one compatible why not try something new?" Another boomer dating story comes from HV Life's art director, Leslie Cortes. She has gone down a different route to find the love of her life. The 48-year-old never thought a cab ride would lead to love, but that's just what happened. Ironically back in 2009, she wasn't shopping for a man. She had grown discouraged about the dating scene. She called a cab because she wanted to get some Christmas shopping done. "I was pretty turned off about men by then," she says. The ride started innocently enough. She had a simple conversation with the friendly driver named Johnny, but soon the conversation grew flirtatious. By the end of end of the ride, she and Johnny Fraioli exchanged numbers. They've been inseparable ever since. Leslie's road to love has had some twists and turns. She tried online dating a few times. Although she enjoyed a few dates, nothing stuck. When she met Johnny, she just knew. "We are soul mates," she says. Now she and Johnny are celebrating their first year anniversary with an engagement. "Five days after our anniversary, Johnny got down on one knee and proposed to me!" she says beaming. One point that all the boomers want to make is that they truly enjoy dating, even though at times it can be difficult. Even Leslie and Johnny keep their relationship fresh by having date nights. "I am open to love. I go out with men and can enjoy their company without stress. If love happens, that's wonderful," Roanne says. Whether you have embraced the online dating scene or find dates through friends, go out and enjoy the activities that the Hudson Valley has to offer-and let things occur naturally. Don't overlook those cab drivers either. Meet up If you aren't ready to try an online dating site yet, then try! Meetup helps people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world. Very informal, inexpensive, and a lot of fun! Hudson Valley Adult Play Group. They go to dances, dinner, movies, hikes, plays, whatever strikes one of your fancy. So if you are like-minded, this group is worth a glance. Hudson Valley 30+ Mingles Singles. This group was created to help connect the over 30 plus crowd get together, make new friends, find romance, or just give you a reason to get out of the house and have some fun. Feature Stories Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT Romantic getaways leaving from Stewart Airport The snowstorms that have battered much of the Hudson Valley in recent weeks are a harsh reminder of how long and laborious winter can be in this region. Shoveling out from the mountains of snow, can easily make one dream of white sand beaches. Scraping  ice crystals off of a car windshield may stoke fantasies of snorkeling in the crystal clear seas of the Mexican Riviera. Fantasizing about tropical exoduses from the Hudson Valley's sometimes cruel winter, is not only natural, but can also be a coping strategy to persevere through the sunless season of cold. Fly away Stewart International Airport (SWF), just south of Newburgh, offers a variety of vacation options for many budgets and interests. Whether simply dreaming of a destination or actively planning an escape to balmier climates, Stewart affords the Valley's denizens a multitude of potential diversions. Apple Vacations Apple Vacations, which has been named the "Best Tour Operator to Mexico" by Travel Weekly, offers high end, all- inclusive packages, departing weekly from Stewart direct to Cancun, Mexico.  The Apple Vacations Cancun program operates from February 12 through April 23. It features direct Saturday morning departure flights, and afternoon returns the following week. "We are very excited about our new non-stop flights to Cancun," says Timothy Mullen, Executive Vice President of Apple Vacations. "This is a great alternative for residents of the Tri-State Region who prefer the convenience of plentiful, inexpensive airport parking, hassle-free check-in and security, and the fast and easy baggage claim that Stewart provides." Go Mexico The all-inclusive packages offer nonstop airfare, hotels, transfers, as well as all food and drink.  Special package deals include the recently refurbished resort, Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun, which received the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Award. The cost is $999.99 per person for seven nights, down from the original price of $1739.99. For families, the ideal resort is the Dreams Puerto Adventuras with a Deluxe Garden View Room. A seven night stay now costs $1199.99 per person (originally $2679.99). It includes $200 in Resort Coupons for spa services and other hotel activities. For couples seeking an adventurous escape, Ali Gerakis, Senior Marketing Manager of Apple Vacations, suggests the Secret Square Deal. In this package, travelers leave the planning to Apple. They find out which Secrets Resort they will be staying in. Their visit includes all the amenities of the other packages. The cost of this package is $1399.99. JetBlue Getaways JetBlue Airlines provides direct flights to eight warm weather destinations. Among the flights offered outside the United States are excursions to Nassau, Bahamas, and the capital cities of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. If you are craving the warmth, but prefer to remain within the domestic U.S., JetBlue also flies directly to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, as well as Austin, Texas. The packages in the JetBlue Getaways vacation program are based on round trip airfare. They usually consist of airfare, a 2 or 3 night hotel stay or car rental. The Getaways to Florida start at $299 per person from Stewart to Orlando. Roundtrip from Stewart to Fort Lauderdale starts at $385 per person. A Cancun Getaway vacation starts at $529 per person from Stewart. Meanwhile, packages to San Juan, Puerto Rico start at $589. Delta Airlines and US Airways Delta Airlines flies from Stewart nonstop to its hub in Atlanta with connections to over fifteen Caribbean destinations, dozens of cities in Florida, and several Mexican destinations as well. Many of the flights to such romantic getaways as Bermuda are direct, after a connection in Atlanta, and require minimal transfer time. US Airways offers direct flights to its hub in Philadelphia with transfers to several Caribbean destinations. Winter weather is a wearying aspect of life in the Hudson Valley. For some, a romantic excursion to tropical or sun blessed outposts may be impractical. Perhaps they're worth dreaming about. Sometimes, dreams are what allow one to make it through the dark night of winter until the delicious dawn of spring arrives. Security at Stewart Airport Travelers have found themselves trading convenience for security, since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In particular, the use of controversial full-body scanners and the implementation of pat down procedures have received plenty of media coverage. Despite last month's USA Today/Gallup poll showing that 78 percent of air travelers support the use of full-body scans, the media has been rife with stories of serious dissension over these policies. You may remember the man who was thrown out of San Diego Airport last November for telling Travel Security Administration agents (TSA), "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested." Only days later, a woman went through screening at Los Angeles's LAX airport wearing only a bikini. Fortunately, those of us who fly from Stewart Airport are not likely to encounter any similar security issues. Flying from Stewart Stewart Airport has as rigid and diligent security as any international airport in the country, according to Port Authority Spokesperson, Jen Friedberg. She points out, it's a unique airport.  "The beauty of Stewart is, it's in a different airspace," Friedberg says.  Isolated from the New York City hubs, it also shares a military airfield with the Air National Guard, and is therefore considered a singularly secure airport. Ann Davis, a spokesperson with the TSA confirms that Stewart does not have body scanners. "The TSA has not put out a body scanner deployment list for 2011 yet," she says. "There's no way to tell if Stewart Airport will be on that list." Asked if Stewart might be ruled out because of its size, Davis says that's not necessarily the case. She cited Harrisburg International Airport in Harrisburg, PA as an example of a small airport where body scanners are already in use. According to published reports, the TSA is expected to distribute 1,000 body scanners to airports over a two year period. For more information about TSA regulations, check out the TSA website. James Meyers has written extensively about travel. His favorite trips include multiple visits to Ireland, as well as the Mexican Riviera and Puerto Rico. Feature Stories Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT The heart of the matter Valentine's Day is widely regarded as a time to celebrate romantic love, despite its religious origins. With so much money and energy being spent on the affairs of the heart, it's no wonder that February is also American Heart Month. While Americans are busy buying chocolates, flowers, and Valentines to express what's in their hearts, the American Heart Association is sending thousands of volunteers out into neighborhoods to remind people to take care of those vital organs. Here are some important facts you should know. Heart disease is the leading cause of death This statistic applies to both men and women. Heart disease is responsible for more than one in every four deaths in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 631,636 people died of heart disease in 2006. Overall, men run a higher risk of heart attack than women, but that divide starts to narrow as women reach menopause. Heart attacks come in different forms "Many do experience the so-called "movie heart attack,with sudden pressure on the chest and  difficulty breathing followed by numbness on the left side, but many do not," says Dr. Michael Cho, a cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown and Rock Hill. This can be especially problematic for women, since symptoms can vary. "Women can present atypically," says Dr. Cho, "shortness of breath, abdominal pain, feeling a little more fatigued; others don't have any symptoms." It's costing us billions According to one study, in 2010 the staggering cost of treating heart disease in the U.S. was $316 billion. That total includes not only health care services, but also medications and lost productivity. Stress kills Medical researchers aren't sure how it works, but the studies are clear. Emotionally stressed out people are at greater risk of developing heart disease. Some believe it's due to a spike in the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, causing blood pressure to rise. Studies show that stress also effects how the blood clots, increasing the risk of heart attack. "I'm a big believer in the influence of stress and how it can ultimately affect the heart," says Dr. Sharagim Kemp, a general practitioner with HealthQuest in Rhinebeck. Sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk According to the CDC, inactive lifestyles are being blamed for putting more people at risk of heart disease than any other cause. Studies show that 40 percent of Americans aren't active enough. Even if you're not overweight, you're missing out on the benefits of exercise. It reduces your risk of obesity and diabetes while strengthening the heart and cardiovascular system. Experts say those who exercise regularly can expect to live longer than those who don't. Smoking hurts your heart About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking, which raises blood pressure and causes inflammation of the arterial walls. The cancer risks of cigarette smoking are well known, but Dr. Cho says the effect on the heart is another matter.  "People don't realize that smoking definitely is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease," he says, "as important as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol." The good news is that some heart damage caused by smoking is reversible. Studies show that 15 years after quitting, an ex smoker's risk of heart disease is similar that of a nonsmoker. Americans at risk Below is the percentage of U.S. adults with heart disease risk factors in 2005-2006. Risk Factor      % Inactivity         39.5 Obesity            33.9 High Blood Pressure   30.5 Cigarette Smoking      20.8 High Cholesterol         15.6 Diabetes          10.1 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States 2008 Go Red for Women People throughout the Hudson Valley are seeing red in February-quite literally-and it's for a good cause. Red is being worn in support the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness about heart disease. It's not just individuals who go red. Entire companies and even cities have pledged their support behind the movement. Why go red? The Go Red for Women campaign was born in 2004, after the American Heart Association(AHA) took a look at its statistics. The AHA found that 500,000 American women were dying each year from heart disease and  yet, women were not paying attention. Surveys showed that many of them wrote heart disease off as an "older man's disease." They failed to realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Since it's preventable and its connection to women had been ignored, health organizations have banded together to specifically target women. The AHA adopted the red dress as the national symbol for this program. Special events Locally, there will be three events in support of Go Red for Women: Special Presentation: Call to Increase Awareness Date: Wednesday, February 2, 3:30pm Presenter: Sandi Jeanette Bon Secours Charity Health Systems Location: The Promenade at Tuxedo Place 40 Hospital Rd., Tuxedo, NY RSVP: Mindy Quinn, Director of Community Relations The Promenade at Tuxedo Place 845-351-000, ext. 203 Friday, February 4 is National Wear Red Day This observance is aimed at building awareness and inspiring action. Show your support by wearing red. Luncheon and education forum Date: Friday, Februrary 25, 10am-2pm  Where: The Grandview in Poughkeepsie Speaker: Dr. Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP She's known as "the doc who walks the talk." Dr. Peeke is a nationally acclaimed expert and speaker in women's health, fitness and nutrition. Her bestselling books include, "Fight Fat after Forty." In conclusion So while you're celebrating Valentine's Day, consider the heart of the matter. Medical experts are hoping you'll remember the importance of maintaining heart health, not just for your own sake, but also for the sake of those you love. In conclusion So while you're celebrating Valentine's Day, consider the heart of the matter. Medical experts are hoping you'll remember the importance of maintaining heart health, not just for your own sake, but also for the sake of those you love. General Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT Slow & succulent winter meals made easily There's nothing better on a cold winter's night than to come home to a warm home filled with the mouthwatering aroma of a delicious hot meal! To make it happen, all you have to do is spend less than 15 minutes in the morning tossing everything into a pot. It's not a dream. It's all real, when you use a slow cooker! Not all slow cookers are alike There are many types of slow cookers available on the market. I prefer the ones that have removable crocks for easy clean up. They should also have programmable timers, which dramatically reduce the chances of overcooking. If your slow cooker doesn't have either of these features, there are simple ways to deal with these inconveniences. There's no need to go out and buy a new cooker. For non-removable crocks, simply spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray or use slow cooker liners. If you don't have a programmable timer on your cooker, you can hook it up to one of those light timers that you find in a home improvement store, then plug it into the wall. Slow cooker 101 The basics of cooking in a slow cooker are the same, no matter which model you use. Throw everything in, then walk away and let it cook. On most slow cookers, the high setting heats to about 300 degrees, while the low setting is 140 degrees. 1 hour on high is equal to 2 hours on low. Experts recommend that you do not put frozen foods into the slow cooker, rather let them thaw first. For safety purposes, food needs to reach a temperature of 140 degrees as quickly as possible. Loading up When loading your slow cooker, remember that it cooks from the bottom. Cooking at low settings is a slow process that results in tender succulent meals. Cheaper cuts of meat and chicken are perfect for this purpose. Trim all excess fat from meats and chicken-you can remove the chicken skin completely if you wish-for better flavor and a healthier dish. Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on low. For best results If time allows, meats should be browned, before going into the slow cooker. This process, which is called a Maillard reaction, adds flavor for your dish. If you do not have time, however, don't stress.Your meal will be delicious anyway. Dry herbs and seasonings need to be added to the pot at this time. Fresh herbs follow later. Follow any loading instructions carefully and remember that harder, root style vegetables such as carrots and potatoes do not cook as quickly as the meats. So they'll need to go in first. More delicate items such as seafood or tender vegetables, such as tomatoes and zucchini, do not require as much cooking time. You can either place them on top or add them to the cooker in the last hour. Tips & techniques Don't take the lid off! When heat escapes, that adds 20-30 minutes of cooking time to the process. Simply shake the lid gently to clear away some of the condensation, so you can see well enough through the glass lid to check the progress. In the last hour of cooking, make gravy by adding thickeners, such as cornstarch mixed with water. Next, turn the heat up high. Additional seasonings such as fresh herbs, dairy products, cayenne, Tabasco, and tender veggies should be added at this point. Seafood should also be added in the last hour, since overcooking gives seafood a rubbery consistency. Now that you have the basics down, try this recipe of mine. Chicken with sun-dried tomatoes & artichokes 4 medium chicken breasts, bone in, skin removed 2 crushed garlic cloves � t oregano � t black pepper � C roasted red pepper strips � C sun-dried tomatoes, chopped well (not rehydrated) 4 T balsamic vinegar 13 oz can artichoke hearts, drained well 3 T drained capers � t basil � t mint Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken. Cook on low heat for 8 hours, until chicken is fork tender. Enjoy! Suggested sides: Steamed green beans and/or warm wilted spinach with bowtie style pasta & fresh grated parmesan cheese. Stacey Hawkins is a professional chef and owner of Hudson Valley based Time Savor Gourmet. She's also a regular blog contributor on For her products and upcoming cooking class schedule, check out her website at Home and Garden Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT What's New?- Noteworthy happenings in the Hudson Valley A knife factory in Ellenville will be adding eight jobs. Canal Street Cutlery has recently been awarded a $75,000 Empire State Development Grant. Under the terms of the deal, the company must add all eight jobs by 2012. The money is to be distributed in three installments. In an area with an unemployment rate of about 20 percent, the news of the expansion is considered a big deal. The knife company currently employs 12 people. The new jobs will pay about $10 an hour. History of knife manufacturing The village of Ellenville has been home to knife manufacturing for over 160 years. At its height, the industry employed hundreds. Canal Street Cutlery is a 7-year-old business. It is the last knife business left in Ellenville. President and CEO Walter Gardiner opened shop at 30 Canal Street, where the historic Imperial Schrade knife company once stood. "Is it a comeback for the knife industry in Ellenville?" asks Gardiner. "Yes it is. Don't forget, we're in the building where Imperial Schrade used to be. They were here in 1848 and closed in 2002." New products The cutlery produces 25 different specialty knives; most of them are geared for collectors. One of the company's newest products is, "Carry the Football," a knife that looks like a football. Not only is it shaped like a football, but it has a leather handle with lacing that resembles a pigskin. It retails for $120.  Recently, Gardiner has been taking his products on the road to trade shows. He says he's still waiting for the state to formally close on the deal. Jobs saved The news was warmly received by Ellenville Mayor Jeffrey Kaplan. "From the village's standpoint," he says," we're excited about the cutlery, not only because of all of the new jobs that are being created, but also because the existing jobs will be retained. We thought that we'd lost the knife industry. We hope they will continue to grow. " What's New? Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT What's New?- Noteworthy happenings in the Hudson Valley The restored West Shore Railroad Station at 27 South Water St. in Newburgh is now on track as a nonprofit playhouse. "The Railroad Playhouse will strive to provide a home for playwrights to workshop and showcase new plays," says executive director Jennifer Soloway. The old train station sat vacant for decades. There was much ballyhoo last summer, when Soloway and her husband Seth announced that they were renting the building from developer Ray Yannone and setting the stage to turn it into performance space. The opening act The couple uprooted themselves from New York City and moved to Cornwall to pursue their dream of opening a small theater. Jennifer has a background in theater management, while Seth works as an artistic director off-Broadway. The landlord was responsible for the full renovation and restoration of the building. The playhouse officially opened its doors at the end of the year. Among the upcoming events are plays, acting workshops, and art exhibits. Seating capacity is between 100-125, depending on the configuration of the space. The show must go on When Hudson Valley Life contacted Jennifer, she was in the middle of booking events. The playhouse is generally open on weekends. She admits, it's a work in progress. "Since the opening date for our space was a moving target," she says "we're sort of scrambling now to get dates booked for the immediate month, and we're also starting to book further out in the year. The goal is to have a 'season' announced for Fall 2011 through Spring 2012, but for now, we're programming a little ad-hoc. We're also building up our lighting and sound inventory which limits some of our programming options." The Soloways say they are dedicated to the revitalization of Newburgh's waterfront. The next stop for the Railroad Playhouse, includes plans for a summer arts camp for kids. For information about upcoming events, check out the Railroad Playhouse website. What's New? Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT Abundanza at Angelo's The last time we ate at Angelo's Trattoria in Harriman, my husband Tim and I were 2 days from getting married! That, was more that 3 years ago. So we felt a great deal of anticipation about this dining experience and we were not disappointed. The food at Angelo's Trattoria is absolutely delectable, with a menu that offers all of the Italian favorites, from zuppa di pesce to zeppoles. Getting ready I called the same day to make reservations for 6:30pm. They had no problem making accommodations for 2 people on such short notice. We made sure to bring a bottle of wine, since they do not have a liquor license. To be honest, I prefer it that way. You are able to drink what you want and not break the bank. I chose a red wine that we received as a Christmas gift.  When we arrived just before 6:30, there were already a number of cars in the well lit parking area.  Harriman is an old town with plenty of charming restaurants and shops. So even if you park far away and need to walk, there's plenty to look at. Angelo's has about 8 tables with seating for about forty. We chose a cozy table for 4 in the back. Placing our order Our waiter, who is the owner's son, handed us some menus and explained the evening's specials in great detail. Since I had been looking forward to this meal for days, I'd been giving a lot of thought to what I was going to get.  I was pleasantly surprised by the list of specials. What caught my attention was baked rigatoni with vodka sauce and spicy sausage. As we looked over the menu, our waiter brought a loaf of bread and a small plate of roasted red pepper pasta. The pasta was scrumptious with the warm Italian bread. After a few minutes, our waiter returned and took our order. We chose fried calamari as an appetizer. My husband chose Zuppa di Pesce and I ordered the rigatoni special. Oh, the calamari! We enjoyed the quaint atmosphere as we waited for our entrees. Within minutes, our salads arrived. It was a great way to start the meal, since the balsamic dressing was light and refreshing. The fried calamari arrived a short time later. My husband and I love calamari. Our appetizer had crispy batter with generous seasonings. The calamari was warm, but not too chewy. It came with marinara sauce for dipping and a lemon wedge. The portion was large. It was probably the best calamari we've ever had. The main course After 15 minutes, we'd polished off the calamari and had just enough time to take a deep breath, when our main courses arrived. Oh gosh, they were huge portions of piping hot pasta, sauce, seafood and sausage! My husband said the Zuppa di Pesce was delicious. His meal consisted of mussels, clams, scallops, and shrimp piled atop of a bed of spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce. His only complaint was that the tails were left on the shrimp, but all of the shellfish was cooked perfectly.  The sauce was a wonderful compliment to the seafood. My meal was incredibly tasty and full of sauce, just the way I like it. My rigatoni special was massive, probably enough for two people. The rigatoni was cooked al denti with a light, sweet vodka sauce and slices of spicy sausage mixed in. This wonderful dish was topped with melted mozzarella cheese. I was able to eat half of it.  I started to slow down, because it was quite heavy. I was  pleased to have leftovers, so I could bring them to work the next day.   We finished off our evening with a delicious desert for two; warm zeppoles topped with smooth cannoli cream and chocolate sauce. The 5 zeppoles were crisp on the outside with soft, warm centers. What a perfect way to end an excellent dining experience! Our bill came out to approximately $70. It was worth every penny. However, Angelo's does not accept credit cards. So be sure to bring enough cash. Also remember to BYOB, if you'd like liquor with your meal. Angelo's Trattoria is located at 4 north Main St. in Harriman. Kristin Repicky is the office manager at Hudson Valley Life magazine. In addition to her husband, their 7-month old daughter, Emma, came along for the dining experience. She also had a great time, even though she's not eating much solid food yet. Restaurants Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT A Green Love Story The green revolution is spreading. Not by leaps and bounds but by small, tentative steps. Environmentally conscious people across the country who want to cut down on the use of fossil fuels, are looking into solar power, electric or hybrid cars and organic gardening. Here in the Hudson Valley some intrepid souls have taken the first steps toward a greener lifestyle. Jazz musicians Mark Shane and Alice Nielsen-Shane of Walden are a prime example. They heat their home with solar power, grow their own food and are working consistently to reduce their carbon footprint. Going solar "The idea of getting off the grid occurred to me shortly after the Y2K thing and we thought about it for quite awhile," 64-year-old Mark says. "Then I remember being in a diner reading an article about installing solar panels and figured it was a good idea to use energy from the sun to heat the house." Mark discovered that getting off the electric grid completely was cost prohibitive, so they went with solar heating. To get heat for hot water, he first installed four solar panels on the roof of his 1700 square foot vinyl sided 1950's ranch home. Later, four more panels were installed to heat the house. All eight panels are discreetly positioned together towards the back of the house, but Mark soon learned that the one downside of solar power is gray days. After a couple of days of cloudy weather, the solar cells are depleted and a backup system is needed to supplement the lack of sun. He installed an electric heating system as a backup. "We are not entirely free of the energy grid," Mark confesses, "but we are saving 20 to 30 percent on heating costs; and 40 to 50 percent in the spring and fall." He also feels this is the way to go for younger people in their 20s and 30s who are buying a home. According to Mark, the whole solar conversion cost under $25,000 with help from a one-time government tax credit. "It's an investment and probably better if you're younger, because you have to think about how long it will take to pay for itself, but Alice and I expect to live until we're 125," he jokes, "and we're saving money already." Solar heating is cost effective for the Shanes, because their system of eight European-style radiators can be channeled discretely to one room or throughout the house. Each has its own dial for on-demand heat. These units are located in the dining room, kitchen, both bathrooms, living room, master bedroom, spare bedroom and in Alice's studio room. "We can dial up heat in any of them and heat only the areas of the house where we require it." Mark explains. "Gone is the constant on-off of the furnace all day to heat and re-heat the water tank. That is a definite waste of energy." Togetherness Alice and Mark are both working musicians. They like jazz with a distinct blues basis including Muddy Water, Fats Waller, Dinah Washington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Theirs is a true love story, one that includes love of music, love of the land, and a fierce dedication to each other. According to Mark, meeting Alice at the 1992 North Carolina Jazz Festival was a stunning experience. "One of the players I was with said, 'See that gal over there, she plays piano.' So I peeled out of formation and made a dive for her." "We made a date for the next day and I pulled up in my big yellow Caddy with my yellow dog Moochie and took Mark to the beach," 56-year-old Alice explains. "She was so intelligent and charming," says Mark. "She just charmed me." That was 18 years ago and they're still going strong. A New York native, Mark kept up a long distance courtship between Rockland County and North Carolina for four years. Finally, on one of his frequent visits, he proposed marriage while driving through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. "He popped the question to me in the Bay Bridge-Tunnel and once we reached the other side he said, 'I'm a different man now,'" Alice remembers fondly. Married in 1996, they moved to Walden because of its natural beauty and proximity to New York City. Then in 1999, after renting for a few years, they bought the house they live in now. In the garden The Shanes supplement their solar heat with a wood stove, "Because it's romantic," adds Alice. They are also avid organic gardeners, committed to growing and preserving food, something Alice learned from her mother in Alaska. "My mother was an organic gardener back in the '60s and was hip to Monsanto even then," Alice says, referring to the Monsanto Corporation's controversial genetic engineering of crops. "We object to companies toying with Mother Nature," explains Mark. "These people don't know what the effects are, since no long term studies have been done. They're playing Dr. Frankenstin, and no one knows where it ends." Their safety concerns about genetically engineered crops, spurred the Shanes to take up organic gardening."We've had a large organic garden since 1994. Our first summer here we had a huge, steaming pile of compost in the yard and the neighbors didn't mind once we shared our tomatoes with them." Together they grow an array of delicious vegetables. They regularly harvest two kinds of tomatoes, lettuce and arugula, broccoli, red or green cabbage, bush beans, peas and garlic, and much more. "We also have a real nice patch of horseradish, rhubarb and usually some variety of mild chili peppers," Mark says. "I even came up with a new variety of garlic called 'Music.' According to Mark, it's a hard type of porcelain white garlic, for those who know garlic. In the winter, when Mark isn't recording or performing, he also enjoys hunting white-tailed deer, so the couple can have venison during the winter months. "We have venison, and the way Alice cooks it is out of this world," he says. "In fact, Alice is pretty handy. When we met, I tried to impress her with my culinary skills. This nonsense went on for about a week. The girl is an extreme culinary talent, who makes the best Lemon Meringue Pie and the best bread." "When I'm not baking bread, playing the blues or hanging clothes on the line, I am singing with my acappella group, 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams,'" Alice says.  Mark is also very proud of the fact they will be performing a special Valentine's Day concert together called "Love Them Blues." Both will be singing and tickling the ivories. For more information, check out the Shanes' website, "We don't usually work together," he says, "so it should be fun." It sounds like a perfect way for this special couple to spend Valentine's Day; making music together. Going green For those who want to go green like the Shanes and need some help in getting started, Mark and Alice suggest contacting: The Cornell Cooperative Extension. If you don't know how to reach your local CCE office, check out the website at Sustainable Hudson Valley, is a grassroots organization, which offers "knowledge sharing. to scale up energy savings." Its website is The U.S. Green Building Council of N.Y. is a group of architects, builders and economic development professionals geared towards helping communities go green. Check out Robert Lachman is an award-winning journalist who lives in Red Hook. He has worked for many local newspapers and is also a singer-songwriter, who performs in the area. Profiles Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 GMT The Black Forest Mill brings classic German style to the Valley I have lived in the Hudson Valley for more than twenty years and can't count the number of times I have driven past the Black Forest Mill in Highland Mills. Sitting atop a hill on Rte. 32, the family-oriented restaurant specializes in German cuisine. My parents have taken my grandma, a transplant from Germany, there a number of times. They've always been impressed with the food and tell me I should go, but I never had the chance until my co-worker and dining partner, Felice, suggested we try it one night. When you walk into the restaurant, the first thing that pops out is the kitschy decor and furnishings. These include pictures of patrons lining the walls, plus beer steins and cuckoo clocks abound. They remind me of the tchotchkes that were around my grandma's house. A large menu They have a full bar menu at the Black Forest, but Felice and I were each craving a beer after a hard day of work. I asked the waitress what pale beer she recommended and without hesitation she said the lager. Felice had the same. We each got a half liter and that was plenty for us. The menu was overwhelming. Of course, there was plenty of standard German fare such as schnitzel, bratwurst, and goulash. Pork chops and steak were also on the menu, so there was a lot to choose from. While looking over the specials board, the meatloaf caught my eye. Felice was torn between the pork jagerschnitzel and the beef roulade filled with onions, bacon, and pickles. Ultimately her choice was made for her, since they were out of the roulade. The food didn't end with just the entr�es. You get a table full of warm German potato salad and coleslaw; a choice of soup, salad, red cabbage, carrots, peas, or creamed spinach, as well as dessert and coffee or tea. These choices are part of the all inclusive dinner menu at the restaurant. Visit on an empty stomach. Our only real criticism is about the service. After taking our order, our original waitress was inexplicably replaced by another. That may explain the confusion that followed. Our appetizers reached us before our drinks did. We had to ask the bus boy to bring our drinks, which was disappointing. The potato pancake appetizer, however, was not disappointing. Three large, perfectly fried cakes were placed in front of us with a side of homemade applesauce. The crispy cakes were delicious, especially when paired with the sweet applesauce. Fun fare After our appetizer, the potato salad and coleslaw were brought out. The potato salad was tangy and flavorful, but the coleslaw was a bit bland. After that, the food came out so quickly, that Felice and I almost had trouble keeping up. Next were our soup and salad choices. I enjoyed the cream of cauliflower soup, which had just the right amount of salt and cream. Felice had the onion soup, which she thought was too oily and left an aftertaste. The salads were small and featured a homemade dressing similar to a balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing is so popular, that it can be purchased in bottles at the front of the restaurant. Our main courses came in good portions. Mine consisted of the tender meatloaf and a large scoop of mashed potatoes with light gravy. Felice's pork jagerschnitzel came with her side dish choice of sp�tzle, a type of egg noodle.The sp�tzle was a perfect light companion to her fried jagerschnitzel. She enjoyed her dish. For dessert you have a choice of black forest cake, carrot cake, walnut layer cake, ice cream or sherbet. I went with the carrot cake and Felice chose the walnut layer cake. The free dessert is a nice touch. We enjoyed our German feast and took home plenty of leftovers. The Black Forest Mill is perfect for large groups. If you go on a weekend, you may hear some live music. I'm told that weekends get hectic, so make reservations. We went on a Thursday night and even then the crowd kept coming. I'm looking forward to returning in the fall to check out Oktoberfest, but the restaurant is worth a visit anytime of the year. Bridget Schultz is the editorial associate at Hudson Valley Life. Felice Feinberg is a salesperson at HVL. Both enjoy dining out, but Felice, a former waitress, considers herself to be especially demanding about good food and service. Restaurants Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT Choosing Art for the Home Your home is a reflection of your personality and the art you surround yourself with should enhance who you are, but picking the right pieces can be a challenge. Where do you start? What should you buy? What should you avoid? Hudson Valley Life spoke with artists, gallery owners and interior decorators to get their professional opinions about how to choose art for your home. The Hudson Valley is home to painters, sculptors, photographers and interior designers, so there's lots of original art out there. With patience, a sense of style and very little knowledge, you can find original works at reasonable prices that may even increase in value. Even on a small budget and with some research you will be surprised what you can find. According to Ann Suprenant, artist and curator of the Suprenant Gallery in Kingston, art can be found throughout the valley, in antique stores and restaurants as well as galleries. "If you choose one week a month to go to galleries, you'll find art on the way," she says. "Art finds itself in clusters. In each town, there will be one or two blocks where there'll be art." Mark Gruber, who owns The Mark Gruber Gallery of New Paltz, points out that galleries are there to help customers with their choices. "We always advise people to buy what they like," he says. "Your home is your taste." Mark feels that part of a gallery's job is to educate people on framing. "Presentation is really important for showing art," he explains. "Bad framing can kill a good painting, while good framing enhances it." He also says bringing in fabric swatches hoping to match the tones of the painting with the color scheme of a room is unnecessary. Linda Gayton of Linda Gayton Interior Design in Highland Mills uses local artists whenever possible in her design work. "Obviously art is very subjective and everything doesn't have to match or coordinate," she says. "That it fits the space and the client enjoys the subject matter is the most important thing." Linda says there are many ways of designing a space, but if a client has a piece of art they like, designing a room around the art and allowing the clients to take the lead is a terrific way to do it. "When you do an interior, it's collaboration between the designer and the client." "The first thing I ask my clients is, 'What do you love?" says Mari Kirwood of Mari Kirwood Associates in Rhinebeck. "Art is not like matching pillowcases. Often I've had a room full of color and I hang a black and white charcoal." According to Mari, the wall size should enhance the painting and not overwhelm it. "In choosing artwork you choose the piece that is to be highlighted or a series, like three prints together or three botanicals; something that adds interest and dimension to the room." Getting to know artists personally is also very important. "I always buy art from a person I meet," Mari explains. Interior Designer Barbara De Stefano of De Stefano Associates in Kingston asks her clients about their taste in art. Do they like modern or Impressionists, landscapes or abstract? She looks in local galleries for local artists, checks out design magazines and goes to art shows. For sculpture, antique carvings, blown glass or Oriental pieces she searches antique stores. Each year, she attends the International Art Show in New York City and takes her clients along. She says she tries to get the most for the money. "I find great pieces at Home Goods, if I have a client who is starting out in their first space." Buying ready-made frames at Michael's is also an option when the budget is low. "If you're looking around your house, take everything off the walls and think about what you want there," suggests Suprenant. "And when you go to a gallery, talk to the curator about price." She explains that the gallery gets 50 percent of the artist's sale and the artist gets the same. "Sometimes if someone really likes something we can take 10 percent off each end." Ann also made it clear that you don't need art education to buy art. Get what you like and set a tone from room to room. It's all ebb and flow, if you love something that doesn't fit try another room. Here are some tips from the experts on what to avoid when looking for art. Mark Gruber: "Avoid signed prints, they never increase in value." Mari Kirwood: "Don't buy something you don't like even if it will increase in value. Buy what you love." Ann Suprenant: "Don't buy something that looks like someone else's work, because imitation is deadly." Robert Lachman is an award-winning journalist who lives in Red Hook. He has worked for many local newspapers and is also a singer-songwriter, who performs in the area. Home and Garden Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT Road trip into history: Hyde Park As the nation worries about the economic downturn spiraling into a depression and politicians battle over cutting services such as Social Security, it seems as if Franklin Delano Roosevelt is as relevant today as at any time in recent memory. Therefore it seemed an appropriate time to visit the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, which was dedicated in 1941. It's America's first presidential library and the only one ever used by a sitting president. Travel into history The only way to access the historic home and library is to take the $14 guided tour offered by the National Parks Service. The tour includes entrance to Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage and cultural center at Val-Hill, The Vanderbilt and Mill's Mansion, all situated within a few miles. The tour begins in the main guest center room, where visitors will find an intricate and beautiful mosaic tile map in the floor detailing the area. Early on in the tour, the guide discussed Roosevelt family history, as well as local points of interest. Visitors are led past the rose garden where FDR and his wife Eleanor are buried along with his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala. FDR was so attached to the dog that Secret Service Agents called him "The Informer," because they knew whenever they saw Fala, The President was certainly nearby. It was here, that Roosevelt gathered the White House press corps and first revealed his polio to them. "Boys, I can't walk. It's up to you what you do with that information," he said. The press kept the President's secret, which in the current era of video phones, Twitter and 24-hour news cycle is remarkable to consider. A home fit for a president The FDR home feels like just that, a home. It is not an imposing mansion cloistered and posed to present an image of what life might have been like. Rather, it's utilitarian, specifically designed for FDR's needs. It's fascinating to see the actual desk where he delivered the fireside chats from and to see the subtle modifications to the home that allowed him to move about without revealing the extent of his disability. It's particularly poignant to see the chair he sat on. Attendants, including his son Jimmy, placed Roosevelt on the chair and crossed his legs for him before guests were brought to greet him. Roosevelt's collections The museum is full of Roosevelt's fascinating collections, including over 50,000 leather-bound books, satirical cartoons and historical artifacts. Visitors may be impressed by the display of birds. FDR personally collected and stuffed over 300 species of birds found on the property. Some 30 or so are on display, while the rest are housed in the Museumof Modern History. As a student of history, this writer found it thrilling to stand in the same spot where perhaps Churchill once stood or to see the actual desk from where FDR made some of the most momentous political decisions of the 20th Century. Go take a hike Even if one is not a history buff the FDR Museum and Library has much to offer a day-tripper. The site is situated on over 900 acres of gorgeous rolling green fields covered with old-growth trees. Breathtaking views of The Hudson Valley greet guests upon every turn. Depending upon the season, the grounds are an ideal place for a romantic picnic, foliage hike, or cross-country skiing. Fun for Foodies Aside from its historical importance, Hyde Park is perhaps best known as a destination for serious foodies. The main campus of the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America is located here and offers a dazzling array of attractions for those with gourmet palates. The three main restaurants, Escoffier Restaurant, Ristorante Caterina di Medici and American Bounty require reservations and proper attire. The St. Andrew's Caf� and Apple Pie Bakery Cafe offer more casual faire and dress, but are closed on weekends. The institute's store offers everything a gourmet food enthusiast would require, from countless cookbooks, exotic gadgets for the aspiring chef to the finest European chocolates for those who wish simply to indulge in the decadent. Casual dining For those who show up in Hyde Park with neither reservations nor the requisite dress to attend the CIA's premier establishments, the Everready Diner may be a good alternative. It's an iconic local institution, which has been featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." The building is certainly eye-catching with its 50's meets Deco-inspired chrome and neon delights. There are so many options available, the menu reads like a novel. It touches on diner classics, blue plate specials and even seldom seen treats from the past such as egg creams, cherry colas and hand-made malteds. The baked on premises bread was the highlight of an excellent meal. Rare for a diner, at least to this writer's experiences, they also have a full bar with classic cocktails and an excellent selection of wine and beers. Expect a wait at this popular diner, if you visit at peak times. Whether your interest is piqued by presidential history, gilded-era grandeur, or culinary delights, Hyde Park is a Hudson Valley destination offering many rewards. James Meyers is a resident of Kingston who writes about national and local issues. He is a frequent contributor to Hudson Valley Life. Cool Places * Hot Trips Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT Learn it at the library Where can you learn how to knit or do origami; how to cook or do beading; how to use a computer or a digital camera; watch a foreign film or learn scrap-booking; get some job hunting advice or join a book discussion group; trace your ancestry; watch a concert; join an art workshop; borrow a book, a DVD, a magazine, a book on tape or a large print book; all for FREE????? At your local library, of course! This writer recently had the opportunity to tour the Newburgh Free Library and the Adriance Memorial Library in Poughkeepsie and was amazed by all they had to offer. Visitors will find that now more than ever, area libraries are sharing resources and gearing themselves towards this region's aging population. Each branch library is a member of a large library system. If you can't find the book or DVD you want at your local library, just ask. Your branch librarians will search through the collections at other branches. Within days, the item you're seeking can be located and shipped to your branch for you to pick up. The Adriance Memorial Library is part of the Mid-Hudson Library System, which encompasses 66 libraries in Dutchess, Putnam, Greene and part of Ulster. The Newburgh Library is part of the Ramapo Catskill Library System, which includes 47 libraries in Orange, Southern Ulster and Sullivan Counties. The main advantages of these large systems are cost and resource sharing, which are important factors in these tough economic times. The Newburgh Library According to Joanne Lugo, Outreach Services Librarian in Newburgh, patrons who are visually impaired may apply for books on tape and CD players for their own use thanks to an affiliation with the New York State Library for the Blind. Applications are available at the library. Want to tackle your own car repairs? Newburgh has an auto repair reference center with books and online resources. A national newspaper index is also available. In addition, Newburgh Library cardholders can access the library catalog from home, reserve a book or e-mail the library with a question. Numerous programs are planned for all ages at the main libraries as well as all library branches. People who feel technologically challenged might be especially interested in learning computer basics. Newburgh has a caf� located inside the library lobby. Library patron Suyunbiike Vassell of Newburgh says moving to the United States from Russia was a major adjustment, but having the resources of the Newburgh Library helped her to assimilate into the American way of life. The former biology teacher says thanks to the library she is "keeping up with the times. Everything is on the computer now." For more information on programs, call the Newburgh Library at 845-563-3600 or your local library branch or check the website at You can also subscribe to the library's event e-mailing Facebook users can also "friend" the Newburgh Free Library for notifications of upcoming events. The Adriance and Arlington Libraries in Poughkeepsie The Adriance Library recently finished a huge renovation and restoration project and the new digs are spacious and modern. Development Officer Gareth Davies says computer classes are popular with baby boomers. Like the Newburgh library, Adriance offers computer classes for beginners and the more experienced. They also offer a cooking class taught by a Culinary Institute of America instructor; book discussion clubs and symposiums on varied subjects such as American history, music, energy efficiency and financial information. There's an open bridge group held on Wednesdays from 1:30pm-4pm, and a board game group (bring your friends and play scrabble, chess, checkers or cards) on Mondays from 1:30pm-4pm in the Arlington Library located at 504 Haight Ave. The Arlington branch also has a collection of books for caregivers on how to provide support and assistance for the aging. The collection was started by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging. Poughkeepsie residents who are disabled and unable to travel might be interested in the library's book delivery service. All materials including books, books on tape, periodicals, DVD's, videos and CD's can be delivered free of charge. To apply for this service, contact the library at 845-485-3445, Ext. 3307. Applicants must have a physician's letter to certify age or physical disability. Check with Adriance online for a program schedule at for more information. The phone number for the Adriance and the Arlington libraries is 845-485-3445. Howland Library in Beacon Smaller city libraries also offer classes and events for the entire family. Alison Herrero, Adult Services Librarian at the Howland Library in Beacon says weekly programs for seniors include brain games, Wii Bowling, book discussions, a knitting class, foreign films and one-on-one computer tutoring. Herrero says the knitting group has contributed hats, scarves and mittens to the local Salvation Army and to the Santa Train, a train that runs from Kentucky to Tennessee distributing gifts to under privileged families during the holiday season. For more information on programs at the Howland Library, call 845-831-1134. The Kingston Library The Kingston Library provides large print and audio, books and numerous ongoing programs. According to Director Margie Menard, current programs include a bridge club that meets on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm; stress reduction through meditation on Thursday mornings at 10:30am; a knitting club that meets on the third Saturday of the month at 2pm; and an origami club that meets on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. For more information call 845-331-0507 or check their web site at Up Next: Informative and Free If you haven't been to your local library lately, you're missing out on one of your area's greatest resources! The Newburgh Library will be holding the following special events this month: Sunday, Jan.16th at 3pm: Jazz Concert Thursday, Jan. 27th at 7pm : Estate Planning and Elder Care Workshop Libraries: Keeping up with technology Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the State Education Department, the Adriance Library was able to obtain 20 new computers for their newly designed computer lab.Development Officer Gareth Davies says the library eventually hopes to have web conferencing available. That technology would make it possible for patrons to to participate in the library's courses from their home computers. Newburgh's Outreach Services Librarian Chuck Thomas says there are plans to have a download station in the library where you can download audio books to your IPod or MP3 player. These can be done from the home now. Patrons can also expect more computer classes in the spring and more e-mail classes. The library will also be adding more public access computers. Library events Hyde Park Free Library Saturday, Jan.15th at 8pm Acoustic Folk Concert Every Friday at 7:15pm Arthur Penn Film Series: Bonnie & Clyde, The Left Handed Gun, The Miracle Worker, Night Moves East Fiskill Library Workshops Jan. 4th Resume Writing & Interviewing 3pm-5pm Jan. 6th Weight Control with Self Hypnosis 7pm-8:30pm Jan. 18th Tax Tips & Changes 10:30am-11:30am Jan. 19th Tax Tips & Changes 4pm-5:30pm Jan. 20th Meet the Author 7:30pm-8:30pm Debbie Brown, Borders & Beyond: Machine and Longarm Quilting Designs to Frame Your Quilt Feature Stories Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT Life Insurance: The most misunderstood financial tool Life insurance is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood portions of a financial plan. Some folks swear by it. Some swear at it. Some folks get religious over it. In other words, reason goes out the window and they either bless it or curse it without examining the facts. In our view, life insurance is simply a tool. Whether it's good or bad depends on how it's used in a specific situation. With that in mind, let's go to the question of the month: Dear Sirs: I feel like my Mom got ripped off! In 2000, my 79-year-old mother bought a $350,000 universal life insurance policy from a local representative. The premiums are very expensive-over $15,000 a year. She is a widow with an estate worth about $1.4 million. In 1998, she survived breast cancer. I recently tried to ask her why she bought that policy, but mom has Alzheimer's. I just feel like someone may have taken advantage of her. What do you guys think?- (Name withheld by request) Well, $15,000 a year for life insurance is expensive. However, considering your Mom's estate is worth $1.4 million (which is about seven times the national average for net worth), a $15,000 premium, only about 1% of her net worth, sounds reasonable. If her estate is growing at all, the premiums should be covered by a small part of the estate's growth. In 2000, the estate tax exemption was $600,000 (meaning any net worth over that amount was taxed at a 50% rate).  If your mother were to pass during 2011, the current exemption is $1 million. Therefore, her net worth over $1 million will be taxed at 55%.  Life insurance, if it is owned by your mother's children or by a properly structured life insurance trust, can be estate tax free.  So, the $350,000 life insurance death benefit mentioned earlier would pass without tax. That makes life insurance a very powerful estate tax planning tool. Based on just these facts, one could make a really good case for buying a life insurance policy to cover estate taxes, but your case has another interesting twist. You stated that in 2000 your Mom had recently survived breast cancer. If that's the case, we are surprised any company insured her at all at any price.  Most companies require a five-year free of cancer wait period before insuring cancer survivors.  So, it seems like your Mom was lucky to get a policy at all. The only caution we would offer is that almost all universal life insurance policies provide a permanent death benefit. In other words, the policy is expected to be in force even if the client dies at a very old age.  However, these death benefits and premiums may not be guaranteed.  A change in the policy's interest rate or an increase in national morbidity and mortality death rates (which is very unlikely) could cause premiums to go up or the policy to lapse, even if the premiums are paid. That's why we prefer guaranteed style life insurance policies.  It is very likely that, because of your Mom's health condition at the time, the insurance company would only issue a non-guaranteed contract. Not ideal, but certainly better than nothing. All in all, with luck regarding interest rates, this policy should serve your family well. We suggest annual reviews with a qualified insurance professional to monitor the policy's performance and to revaluate your options as time goes by. Dan Searles and John Stohlman, owners of Medallion Financial Group, are CFP's, financial planners and Registered Representatives offering securities and advisory services through National Planning Corporation, member NASD/SIPC, and Registered Investment Advisers. For further info, questions or comments regarding this article, Dan and John can be reached at 301-990-9704 or 1-800-878-9704 or National Planning Corporation does not endorse the opinions expressed in this column. The information here is not to be considered as financial, tax or legal advice. As with any financial, tax or legal matter, consult your qualified adviser before taking action. No investment strategy can ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Money Matters Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT What's New? Vassar College Photo Exhibit Preview, "150 Years Later" By Robert Lachman This year marks the 150th anniversary of  Vassar College. Founded as a woman's college in 1861, Vassar became coeducational in 1969 and is one of the preeminent private colleges in America. To help celebrate this anniversary, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is presenting a special photography exhibit beginning January 28th entitled "150 Years Later: New Photography by Tina Barney, Tim Davis and Katherine Newbegin." A show of diversity Art Center Curator, Mary-Kay Lombino, wanted to show off modern campus life and she wanted to do it with photographs. "I'm curator of photography here and the Loeb center is one of the few places you can go to see photography in the area," Mary-Kay says. "The idea of the show is diversity and forgoes the typical view of Vassar people usually see." She is excited that the three commissioned photographers focused on aspects of campus life that hide beneath the surface. Three photographers, one show The show explores Vassar today with each artist portraying different aspects of the Vassar experience. Barney shot intimate student portraits,  Newbegin found the hidden spaces beneath the surface and Davis portrayed the chaos and humor behind campus life. "They have pieced together a portrait of Vassar that reveals as much about the artists' interests as it does about their subject," Mary-Kay explains."150 Years Later" is on display at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY. The exhibit runs from January 28th to March 27th. For more information, call 845-437-5632. Winter Road Trips: Heritage Site Guidebook: A good way to fight cabin fever this season Our Hudson Valley Life readers are always looking for good road trips. They tell us they want excuses to pile into the car and visit some interesting places, rather than sit around the house this winter. The new Heritage Site Guidebook offers 100  historic places to visit in the Hudson Valley! The guide is the brainchild of The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. The featured sites are organized geographically and according to themes such as "Art," "Environment," and "the Revolutionary War." The goal is to encourage visitors to explore not only the places shown in the guidebook, but also the communities they encounter along the way. Tourism officials are hoping the guidebook will give the Hudson Valley's $4.7 billion dollar tourism economy a boost this season. The guidebook costs $9.95 plus shipping and handling and can be purchased through the web site: Back pain remedy By Roanne Patterson, HV  Life staffer The halsa wellness acupressre mat is an odd-looking item that's longer and wider than most torsos. The Swedish designed mat is for home use. It can be positioned on the floor or bed. Getting onto it is a bit tricky, but once you're lying flat on your back, there's a feeling of support that's pleasant. This writer, who does suffer from occasional back pain, could feel the blood flowing with each passing minute. According to the product description, the mat has 8,820 spikes to stimulate the user's acupressure points. It promotes a sensation of warmth that can feel rejuvenating. The mat is new on the market, but this healing accoutrement has its roots in India where spike mats were first used 5,000 years ago by fakirs and yogis to release physical, mental and emotional blocks. In search of a second opinion, this writer took the mat to a chiropractor, Dr. Michael Raucci of Walden. He says it should be called the "pressure points mat" rather than "acupressure." That's because the pressure from the spikes is uniform, whereas acupressure is specific and targeted to a particular spot.According to the manual that comes with the mat, it "can be used by anyone who wants to increase their energy levels and live a healthier life." It's recommended that the mat be used on bare skin and for about 10 minutes a day. The halsa welness mat sells for $39.95 and can be purchased online at What's New? Thu, 23 Dec 2010 00:00:00 GMT Don't follow the herd Most folks tend to follow a herd mentality. Like sheep, they run together, hoping, we guess, that staying in a group will help them avoid the wolves. In the financial world this rings particularly true. Investors tend to run together, hoping to avoid financial losses. This herd mentality can be seen in any specific investment category. Years ago, we had a 57-year-old doctor client come into our office and insist that all his money be put into tech stocks. Six months later, the Clinton-era bubble burst and the client's holdings lost over 50% of their value. We have seen the same scenario carried out in various sectors over our 30 years in practice. Most recently, the masses wanted to over-allocate their holdings in the housing sector. � We had one client take all of his money out of stocks and put the cash proceeds into an $800,000 Wilmington, North Carolina beach house. "Housing can only go up," he said. Well, that house is now worth about $480,000 and that's only if a buyer steps forward. What was the result of his miscalculation? The 67-year-old and his wife have un-retired and gone back to work full time to try to pay the mortgage on their "can't lose proposition." This brings us to the question of the month. � "Dear Dan and John: Everyone I know is now saying, 'Buy gold! Buy gold!' But, I'm not so sure. What do you guys have to say on the matter?" Signed, Bill Miner � Dear Mr. Miner: Well, when everyone says buy X, it probably means you should do extensive research on X before pursuing it and that's our opinion on gold. According to the October 4, 2010 issue of Investment News, "During the decade since it last hit bottom, gold has gone from about $250 an ounce to more than $1,300."� So, a lot of the gains may have already happened. Could it go up more? Sure, but it seems to us that the down side may be greater than the upside. The article, by Dan Jamieson, goes on to remind us that gold has very little intrinsic industrial value (i.e. it's infrequently used in manufacturing, except jewelry). And, according to Jamieson, gold is also not an inflation hedge. So maybe, put a little gold in your portfolio, but our best advice is to not buy into the herd mentality and, instead, choose investments based on your specific situation and goals. � Dan Searles and John Stohlman, of Medallion Financial Group, are CFP�'s and Registered Representatives with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry. Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Medallion Financial Group and NPC are separate and unrelated companies. They manage over $250 million of client assets. For further info, questions or comments regarding this article, Dan and John can be reached at 1-800-878-9704 or � Although the opinions expressed are based upon assumptions believed to be reliable, there is no guarantee they will come to pass. The views within do not express the opinions of NPC. Money Matters Tue, 23 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT Enjoy comfort food and a date night atmosphere at the Tomato Caf� My husband Tim and I moved to Fishkill in July and with the hustle and bustle of adjusting to a new place, we hadn't had the chance to scope out any restaurants in town. When we finally did have an opportunity for a night out, we decided to try a local caf� that we have been driving past for four months on Main St., The Tomato Caf�. The Caf� is easily spotted by a bright red awning and bistro style tables outside on the sidewalk in the heart of Fishkill Village. Walking in, we were greeted by a waitress who gave us our choice of the tables. We chose a table towards the back of the 24-seat dining room. There were red sconces lining the walls which created a romantic dining experience, perfect for our date night. Is eggplant salad comfort food? � Once seated, we got our dinner in gear by perusing the drink menu. The Tomato Caf� recently got their beer and wine license, so they were well stocked. Tim ordered a Sam Adams and I had a glass of Pinot Noir. We looked at the menu for a few minutes and since we were starving, decided to order some appetizers. I had the classic Tomato Caf� Soup and Tim ordered the Caf� Wings. � Tim would eat wings all the time if he could, and he has no qualms telling you exactly how he feels about them, good or bad. The menu included interesting salads such as a grilled eggplant and classic sandwiches like Caf� Tuna and chicken and mushroom wedge. There were traditional comfort foods as well, the type of food that I love to eat on a cold, rainy evening or after an exciting and exhausting day. When our waitress returned she asked if we had any questions. I asked what she recommended as a pasta dish and she said she loved the macaroni and cheese. That was a recommendation that I couldn't pass up. Tim decided on the penne pesto. � Once our orders were placed, we were left to take in the restaurant's decor. We enjoyed looking around the restaurant and noticed all the little touches, such as the deli style clear cases which held beautiful looking cakes and pastries. Our appetizers arrived quickly. The steamy tomato soup was a perfect way to start a meal after a long and cold day. Tim reported that his wings were great and they had a good crunch to the skin. Generous portions and tempting desserts A few minutes after we finished our appetizers, our pasta dishes arrived. My macaroni and cheese was incredible. The dish had four different cheeses blended into velvety, goodness with crunchy bacon pieces sprinkled on top. It was a mix of sweet with the cheese and salty with the bacon. Tim said that his penne pesto was the "best he has ever ate." After getting halfway through our entrees we started to get full so we decided to take the remaining portion home and move on to desert. We ordered homemade gelatos. I had caf� bianco (vanilla with coffee) and Tim had mint chocolate chip. The portions were huge. We should have shared one order, but enjoyed indulging in our choices. We ending up taking home our leftovers and had them for lunch the following day. The meal was still delicious. Oh how I love leftovers! Overall, our meal left us more than satisfied and Tim and I can't wait to go back. Restaurants Tue, 23 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT Skyping with the grandkids Are you connected yet? As more and more people join social net-working sites to keep in touch with loved ones, the face of communication as we know it is changing in drastic ways. Whether you see technology as a friend or foe, if you're not taking advantage, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to interact with your loved ones. It took a lot of convincing to get Diane Lorusso to join Facebook. The LaGrangeville resident thought the site was just a way for kids to waste time. It took her daughter in law a good half-year of convincing before she finally caved in. � "I didn't realize how valuable Facebook was," said Lorusso, a grandmother of 12. "When you see how much you can really do with it, it's amazing. I get to see what's going on in my grandkids daily lives and see what kind of day they're having. I absolutely love it." She's not alone: in 2008, only 1.2% of the site's users were over the age of 50. This year, that number jumped to 11%, or nearly 15 million people. Social media sites, Facebook being the most well-known and well-used, enables users to keep in touch by sharing photos, videos, and news. Aside from keeping in touch with family members, Facebook also often reconnects old friends: Lorusso found a classmate she hadn't seen in over 30 years and the pair recently got together for lunch. Rosario "Russ" Lando has no interest in Facebook. "I tell people all the time: if they want to find me, they know where I am," chuckled the grandfather from Fishkill. He may not use social media, but he and his large family still utilize other technologies to stay in touch. Using a webcam and video software, Lando is able to be "present" at family events and to interact with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live in Boston. "It's nice, they send me videos of communions and baptisms. I never miss anything." Webcams are small cameras that attach to one's computer and allow the users to see each other's actions. Combined with instant messaging services, video software, or internet-based phone services such as Skype, webcams add a live-action element to casual conversations. There is no question that new technologies are changing the way we interact as a society. However, as the younger generation zooms ahead in the digital world there are concerns that they may be leaving the older generation in the dust.�Grandparents may have different expectations as to what constitutes quality time than their grandchildren do. Grandchildren raised in the digital age may not even realize that Grandma would much prefer a face to face visit or phone call than a comment left on her Facebook wall. � "There is the argument that digital technology is alienating," said Peter Kaufman, an associate professor of sociology at SUNY New Paltz. "Social technologies are incredible: they can increase communication, particularly for grandparents who don't live close to their grandchildren. But sometimes, these technologies can come at the expense of face to face visits." As with anything in life, it's finding the right balance. But, some grandparents find that being up to date with the latest technologies that their grandchildren are using brings the relationship closer. One grandparent who has effortlessly merged technology with real-life quality time is Ed Conroy. His granddaughter, Robyn Stipak of Newburgh, may just be the most technologically advanced toddler in the Hudson Valley. When Conroy noticed his granddaughter's keen interest in her mother's iPhone, he decided to buy an iPad tablet as a present for her second birthday. "It's a great device for kids. Kids are so capable of learning and this is the way the technology is going so we set her up with it. It's definitely given her a leg up, especially with developing her acute motor skills." Right now, one of Robyn's favorite iPad pastimes is watching videos on Youtube, particularly those of Tinkerbell. She knows how to search out Tinkerbell, select a video, and add it to her favorites. Conroy, who works with mainframe computers at IBM, will often sit with his granddaughter as she uses the iPad as a learning tool. He's considering purchasing her an iPhone for her upcoming third birthday. "I'd like for each of us to have one. With the video capability of the iPhone, she can call and we can see her and she can show us where she is and what's in front of her. Wherever we are, she can be with us." How to Skype: Visit Select "Get Skype" Select your system requirements and hit download Click "run" to launch the setup wizard Follow the steps in the setup wizard to complete installation After installation, you can open Skype anytime by clicking the Skype icon on your desktop. For the best experience with Skype, consider purchasing a webcam and headset. A headset will enhance the quality of the sound and a webcam will allow you to see and be seen while you're catching up with loved ones. Courtney Bonfante is a writer living in Marlboro with her husband and daughter. She is the publisher of, a blog geared towards families in the greater Newburgh area. Feature Stories Tue, 23 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT What's New?- Happenings in the Hudson Valley The Orange County Land Trust (OCLT), based in Middletown, NY, has had a busy fall, including taking an active role in advocating for farmland protection, asking New York State to honor its contracts with local farmers and restore funding for the protection of farmland in the state budget. "Farm families promised state funding to protect their farmland for future generations have been left in financial limbo," said Orange County Land Trust Executive Director Jim Delaune. Delaune said that farm families often build their business plan around farmland protection funding, reinvesting the money into buying equipment and building barns. These funds also enable future generations to remain farming. "Without this economic investment in our farms, many will fail to make the transition from one generation to the next, and risk being bought up for development," he said. According to Ethan Winter, New York conservation manager for the Land Trust Alliance, New York State's farmland protection program saves farm jobs and keeps valuable farmland in production. He said the program also enables farmers to reinvest in their enterprise and reduce debt, as well as provide healthy, locally produced foods. Hudson Valley Life will be taking an in depth look at farming in the Valley this spring. Meanwhile, help OCLT and your local farmer by purchasing the OCLT 2011 calendar. This year's calendar again features the award-winning photography of Sugar Loaf artist Nick Zungoli, with Hudson Valley Alzheimer's Association pleased with research renewal The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health announced recently that the National Institutes of Health's Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) - the largest public-private partnership in Alzheimer's disease research - has been renewed for an additional five years. The aim of the study expansion is to gain new insights into the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, with the goal of improving clinical trial design and aiding drug development. We asked Elaine Sproat, the president & CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, Hudson Valley/ Rockland/ Westchester, NY Chapter, to explain the significance of the renewal for Hudson Valley Life readers. � "We're very pleased to see a re-investment in this research study. One of our most notable partnerships is with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the primary federal Alzheimer research agency within our National Institutes of Health. The Association has worked closely with the NIA since our founding in 1980. We have collaborated in funding and recruiting participants for several flagship clinical trials, including the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Over the last 15 years, scientists have made enormous strides in understanding how Alzheimer's disease affects the brain. Currently, the drugs available for the treatment of Alzheimer's only temporarily improve the symptoms of the disease; they do not stop the damage to brain cells that causes Alzheimer's to progress. But scientists believe that in the near future, therapies and treatments that slow or stop the progression of the disease will be available through more research. The Alzheimer's Association has been involved in every major advancement in Alzheimer research since the 1980s and is a leader in the global fight for a world without Alzheimer's. We are the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer research. Over the life of our International Research Grants Program, we have awarded in excess of $279 million to more than 1,900 projects. The Alzheimer's Association's work has resulted in bringing research on chronic brain inflammation into the mainstream of Alzheimer research. Clinical trials are key. Without trials, there can be no better treatments, no prevention and no cure for Alzheimer's disease. At least 50,000 volunteers, both with and without Alzheimer's disease, are urgently needed for more than 100 actively enrolling clinical trials about Alzheimer's and related dementias. � In July, the Alzheimer's Association launched TrialMatch, a service that lets you search for clinical trials in your area and narrows results to those trials where there is a reasonable chance to be accepted for enrollment. There are several clinical trials taking place in our region.� As part of a clinical trial, a person with Alzheimer's (or a healthy volunteer) can help move research forward. Participation has the potential to help both the individual participant and other individuals who have Alzheimer's or are at risk of developing it." � TrialMatch is a free service. For consultation, interested individuals can call 1-800-272-3900, or visit View the research information at What's New? Tue, 23 Nov 2010 00:00:00 GMT